Science: The Disobedient Rocket

One fine afternoon a huge Atlas rocket took off from Cape Canaveral carrying an Agena B as its second stage. On the nose of the Agena perched Ranger III, a 727-lb., $7,000,000 marvel of precision and ingenuity that U.S. spacemen hoped last week would send back closeup TV pictures of the moon, and land a small, tough seismograph on the lunar surface.

Ranger I and Ranger II had been flops because of bad propulsion; Ranger III's launch was apparently O.K. The Atlas fired its three motors, then plopped back into the ocean as planned. The Agena fired and soared into a "parking...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!